Monday, April 30, 2007

Lunch in $5 in Iowa City

I'm basically done with class now, I just have a couple finals next week, but nothing that I have to really do this week. I have to take/give some lessons, but other than that, I'm free. And on days like today, I like to use my freedom to wander about downtown. Of course I had to stop at the Java House for a cool drink (the temperature has gotten over 90 for the second straight day, but not the suffocating 90 degrees that we'll have in a month or so) and to do a little reading. After spending about an hour there, I walked around, ran into a couple of people I knew, chatted a little, then headed towards home. On the way, I felt my stomach rumble, and thought of getting some food. Unfortunately, I had about $3.17 in my pocket, not really enough for much of anything. Or so I thought.

I go near a Dairy Queen and a Paul Revere's Pizza on my walk home, both of which are relatively cheap. My dilemma was which to choose. Sustenance or indulgence? The weather being what it was, I went with the indulgence that is the Dairy Queen chocolate-dipped vanilla ice cream cone. Imagine my surprise when the total came to $1.85, leaving me with enough to get a $1.25 slice at Paul Revere's! And then, imagine my delight when I realized that the lunchtime special is $1/slice! Well, as you have probably already put together, I headed down the block and got me a piece of the crappy pizza that I love so well. On top of all that, I still have 27 cents of the original $5.22 I had when I started my day. What a time to be alive. That's how I kick it in the IC.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Damn Good Times

I'm sitting here reflecting on a beautiful day in Iowa City, and also on a perfectly mixed Tom Collins, listening to Rock Plaza Central. Times like this make me feel that life is good. After the constant rain that we had during the week (not that I minded), some days of sun and warmth are welcome. I worked 7-3 today, which is not a bad shift at all. Sure I get up early, but it's nothing I can't handle. And the day goes by quickly. Plus, I was working with some good kids, that's always nice. Afterwards, I followed the NFL Draft a little while, took a short nap, and went for a walk. People were out in full force, soaking in the last rays of light, eating in the recently re-opened outdoor cafes of the local restaurants, and just having a good old time. I stopped by Oasis and had a delicious falafel, then came home to chum it up with my roommates. Daren's band, Raccoo-oo-oon, is playing a show tonight, which I will be heading to shortly. I figured a night like this can only be topped off with a cool drink, and what is more refreshing after a warm day than Mr. Collins?

Tomorrow's looking like it'll be a fine day, temps in the 80's, sunny, and not a lick of work in sight. I may hit up the frisbee golf course with my buddy, do some grilling, and maybe try to catch a matinee of Hot Fuzz. Now I'm really living. If I can fit it in, I'll head to Three Samurai to hit up the all-day sushi happy hour. Damn, that is sounding like a mighty fine day. I hope everyone else is having such good times with their own weekends. If not, I'm sorry. I don't want to rub this in your face. But really, I can't help but gloat. My weekend should be put in the Iowa City Chamber of Commerce's brochures about the city. People would come. Just have a picture of me on the front, all smiling with one hand in the "thumbs up" position and the other holding a cool cocktail (umbrella optional, it can be photoshopped in if warranted).

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Here's (another one) of my Big Ideas

Ok, here's one thing that I've been thinking about proposing for a little while, one of my grand schemes, and I hope I can get a lot of cooperation from everyone out in the blog land. It seems that most, if not all of people that have been reading are interested in music to some extent. So I'm here to announce the Great Blogger Mix CD Exchange! If enough people sign up or agree for this, it could be pretty awesome. If not, it can still be fun, I'll send out some CD's to anyone that would like. But first, I want to get an idea of how many people would be into this. And I invite everyone out there to post on their blog, asking others to join in the fun! For now, just post a comment here and let me know if you're interested, and maybe send me an email and I can start compiling names. Once I get an estimate of who would participate, I could send emails out to line things up, to get it all started. So for now, leave a comment, send me an email, and start thinking of some kick-ass mixes. This is a no-holds-barred event, you can do a theme mix, you could do a totally random mix, a mix of bands or songs that you don't think anyone has heard, or you could just do a mix of your all-time favorite songs. Right now I'm kind of picturing everyone sends everyone else a cd, but if we get enough people, I have a couple options of how it could go down. I'll save that for later, though. For now, spread the word around, you can link here or just give the basic gist of things and hand out my email (

Oh, and one more time, I want to promote my latest creative hijinx with my good friend H (the brains behind Random Mindless Ramblings). It's As the Coffee Brews, a story about whatever we decide it will be about. It's fun, so just humor us! You might even like it!

"How much does a 2-cent stamp cost?" - actual question I've heard

The postal rates are going up on May 14th, just a reminder. We have a postal sub-station at the customer service desk where I work, so we get people asking about this constantly. I just tell them that the rate is going up to 41 cents for a letter, and that yes, we will be selling the 2-cent stamps, and we will have the new "Forever Stamps" when the time comes. I didn't realize, however, that the rates are going to be all kinds of confusing for anything other than a regular envelope.

Apparently there are going to be 3 different size qualifications, starting with the letter, which entails anything under a certain measurement and under 3.5 ounces. Then there's some other size bracket, and then finally, everything that doesn't fall under those two go to the "package" category. Exciting stuff, right? Imagine how exciting a nearly 2-hour training session on this was, via conference call no less! Everyone had their packets and sheets, and then two people in some unknown, far-off location guided us through some PowerPoint-type thing. To the man guiding us, every package or form was a "bad boy," as in "When a customer wants to insure their package, fill out this bad boy," or "If the bad boy is over 15 inches, you use your flowchart here," (yes, we were given a flowchart) "and you'll see that it goes into this category." He had to have said it at least 15-20 times. Then there was the postal website, which the man and the woman speaking had to have practiced saying together. It was eerie. Kind of like some infomercial where everyone says the phone number at the same time.

When I wasn't busy text messaging one of my co-workers also getting trained (we both decided that a stiff drink was warranted, even if it was 10 in the morning), I was trying to pay attention, I really was. I mean, I really like flowcharts, honestly. Dan (another co-worker) and I both knew that we were going to be the ones training people back at the store, and fixing their mistakes, so we paid attention to the parts we needed to, like insurance, international, and some priority mail stuff. That being said, we both agreed that there will be some mistakes made. It's a given. So yeah.

Anyways, that's been occupying my time for part of the morning, then school-related stuff, and now a break for blogging. I will try to get my Big Idea stuff worked out to get posted later today or this evening, but if worse comes to worse, It'll be up Saturday afternoon. Sorry, I do have things that will be taking priority over the next day or two. And that includes finishing my "Cinco de Mayo" mini beer tour at Old Chicago. It's something that needs to be done.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Just in case you couldn't get enough of me. . .

The first couple of installments of As the Coffee Brews, a joint venture in writing between me and H, are up! We're both very excited about it, I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as we've enjoyed talking about, planning, and writing it thus far. I have to give Haley credit, she's the one who came up with the idea, I just (unwittingly) supplied the name and kind of basic plot theme. It took me about 2 seconds to agree to it once she told me her idea. I don't know how often it'll be updated, hopefully daily or so. It's kind of funny that this is starting right after I say that I'll be posting less frequently, but it just worked out like that. So you may be seeing (slightly) less of me here, but you can still get your Flenker Fix over there. Plus, Haley's a fine writer, so you'll have plenty of good stuff to read. Assuming you think that my stuff is good too. So enjoy!

Please note that this is only part of the Big Ideas that I alluded to earlier. Stay tuned for more.

Exciting times ahead

So I don't really know too many details right now, but in the near future, there's going to be a couple of new things that I'm going to be a part of, and I think they'll go over pretty well. One I think I'll be "announcing" tomorrow, the another will come out when "my partner" and I figure out more details. If nothing else, I'll have a good time with these. And I hope for my project, I can get a lot of people involved. That'll make sense tomorrow. I promise.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Rain, I don't mind

It's been raining most of the day here in the IC, and I love it. I hope it keeps raining until I go to bed, there's nothing better to fall asleep to than a good shower outside. A soft rumble of thunder can be nice, too, as long as it doesn't become too loud and violent. And I'd rather be up watching the lightning, so I'd prefer that to wait until a time I can more thoroughly enjoy. A nice, steady rain, however, is perfect. It looks like that is what we'll be getting for the next few days here, too. Which is fine by me. I like a beautiful spring day as much as the next guy, but I truly appreciate the rainfall even more.

Right now I'm trying to decide what the ideal rainy day would be for me. It would have to be warm enough to sit outside for a while without requiring a heavy coat, or shoes. A nice porch to sit on would be a must. I'd need a book of crossword puzzles, a newspaper, and a reading book that's not too upbeat, but not real gloomy, either. (that could be a totally new post, the perfect book for a drizzle.) Should the fancy strike, I'd like to be able to run around in the rain, maybe play some sort of game, or just go for a walk to Oasis or the Java House. Falafel seems like it would be a good lunch, but a good ol' sandwich would be just fine, with some iced tea to wash it down. Lemonade would work, too, but I'd prefer the tea.

Heck, I could manage with just being under a tarp, sitting out in the woods, enjoying nature in the rain. There's something about immediate, extremely basic shelter that I enjoy very much, like just having a sheet of plastic wrapped around me, so I could still feel the rain at the same time as having protection. Not so much like a raincoat, something a little more structured, if that makes sense. One of the best times that I've ever had in the rain was when I was younger, and just sat right inside the door of a shed on our property, just watching the downpour. I felt secure and sheltered, while I still felt a part of the storm. I like that. It's not a feeling that I've had too often. Maybe I'll try to rediscover it soon. (this has been another installment of wistful Chris!)


Can I help that I am such a photogenic gent? Especially on a phone camera? (Interestingly enough, I don't have a picutre of myself on my phone. Maybe if I called me more often, I would.) This one comes from H's visit to Iowa City a few weekends ago. I'm still impressed by people with the ability to take a picture with their phone and then email it to someone like me. My phone has taken some pretty neat pictures, but as far as I can tell, they're trapped. Maybe I'll do some research, and see what I can come up with for freeing the pixels.

It's getting to be the "busy" time of the year now, classes are finishing up, the weather is getting nicer so I'm doing more stuff outside, so the blogging may slow down a little in the next week or so. (I know Jad knows what I'm talking about. Good luck with your school stuff bud!) I'll still go every day, but maybe not quite as long and not so many times. Which is not a bad thing, lately I've felt like I just am going for quantity over quality, or something like that. But then whenever I'm reading some people's blogs, and they haven't updated for a few days, I'm always a little disappointed, I love reading the stuff they're posting. And it's come to my attention that other people may read this, so I should keep chugging along. Not that it's been really hard for me, I can crank out a few paragraphs about the jacket I'm wearing if you would like(it's a nice track jacket-type thing, I never really know how to describe it. But I wear it ALL THE TIME, it's amazing). But just as a warning, the frequency may slow down a little in the next couple of weeks.

One last thing, I want to make a quick music recommendation. A friend of mine and I just traded mp3 CD's this past week. (I don't think it'll take over mix tape or mix cd exchanges, but whatever.) One of the bands from the cd I got is the Figurines. Damn, I don't know how I haven't listened to them before now, but I really dig their sound. So give 'em a listen. Maybe sometime in the near future, after their new album comes out, they'll make the trip from Denmark to Iowa.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A good food day

I don't know what got into me today, but I was inspired to kind of experiment and make some new dishes. Or I should say one new dish (that I've decided will be the non-pizza Signature Dish of my restaurant), and a kind of new dessert that needs a little tinkering still. But both turned out well, and will be made again in the future.

First, for lunch, I wanted to make something with the noodles I had left. So I started them boiling, with some salt, garlic, and olive oil in the water. While those were in the pot, I diced and sauteed up the rest of the onion that I had left over from the weekend in some butter, along with some garlic (I love garlic, I feel that one can never have too much). Once I had decided that they were done enough, I melted some more butter in, and then poured in a little milk to start a sort of bechamel sauce, and let it briefly simmer. Next, I julienned some ham, and added that to the sauce. (note: this could be omitted for a vegetarian dish, or if you don't like ham for some strange reason. Also, it would've been better with prosciutto or a smokey bacon, but the Virginia smoked ham I had worked well.) I added a little flour to thicken the sauce a little, and then added the noodles and tossed it all together with some olive oil. After I plated it, I put sprinkled on some crushed red peppers and fresh basil, and then topped with a little fresh pico de gallo. It was hell of delicious.

After a while, I got a yearning for some peanut butter cookies. Usually I just go to the Java House and have one of theirs, but I decided to stay in today and not spend any money (I've spent much too much of it recently). It took a while, but I found a recipe that didn't call for the dough to be chilled for 3+ hours, but I didn't quite have all of the ingredients, so I improvised. For some reason I only had crunchy peanut butter (which I don't really like, I don't know why I'd have a jar of it, unless it had been inherited from past roommates), and no baking soda or oats. And I didn't want to use the amount of butter that was called for, so I used some applesauce for part of it. I didn't really measure what I was using, just sort of eye-balled it, but the dough was basically butter, applesauce, white and brown sugar, an egg, flour, baking powder, and some cocoa powder. The cookies turned out pretty well, not the best cookies I've made, but definitely not the worst. I think if I had had the oats, they would've been much better. And a little bit more cocoa powder would've been nice. But I think for my first try, these were fine. Besides, where's the fun in getting everything perfect on the first try?

Fun in the sun?

I think the music recommendations will go on a brief hiatus, I have a few things in mind for them. You'll see in the near future.

According to the local papers, between 10,000 and 12,000 people showed up for Senator Obama's rally yesterday, an impressive number if I may say so myself. Here are a couple of photos from the Press Citizen website.

There were a lot of people. The weather being nearly perfect helped that, I'm sure. It was a great setting, and a great day, I'm glad I was able to go, and not get a sunburn! I lathered up in the SPF 45 before I left, but usually that's not enough, if I'm out in the sun for any amount of time, I'll get a burn, thanks to the red hair and fair skin. You would think that I would learn and just carry around a bottle of sunblock, but I don't. I have been better in recent years, I haven't gotten burnt nearly as bad as my younger days. And it never hurts when I get a burn, it's sometimes a little itchy, but never uncomfortable. It just sucks because I look ridiculous, and then everyone has a comment, "oh, did you get some sun?" or "outside a lot this weekend?" Yeah. Thanks Captain. ("Yarrrrr, I'm Captain Obvious, and I thinks ye should've used some sun screen, yarrr")

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Photo from last night and Barack!

The photo off to the right is me and my lovely former co-worker Jenni, who was in town for the weekend. I happened to run into her when KP and I were out, and spent the rest of the night hanging out with Jenni and her sister. Good times were had. And I'm impressed with technology. First off, the picture turned out pretty well for being from a cell phone (I'm looking like the money, and Jenni usually looks good), and secondly, Jenni sent this from her phone to my email, all while we were sitting at our table in the bar. Amazing!

I just got back from seeing Barack Obama. It was an excellent day, near 80 degrees with a little breeze, and tons and tons of people turned out! I took some pictures with my phone, but alas, I don't have the abilities to send stuff through email, as far as I know. . . If I do, it probably costs a lot of money. So I'll try to figure some way out, but for now, I'll probably steal some photos from other websites and post them here. The speech was great, if you ever have a chance to see Senator Obama, I would strongly recommend you take the opportunity, no matter your political affiliation. He's a great orator. And, as of now, he's my favorite candidate, and will be getting Flenker's Vote in the upcoming caucuses.

I'm off now, to enjoy the day, before the thunderstorms come through. We're under a severe thunderstorm watch until 9 pm CST, so we'll see what happens. I'm going to play tennis soon, hopefully I won't hurt myself, or make too much of a fool of myself. It's likely that one of those scenarios will happen, though. Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Everything tastes better cooked outside

KP is in town for the What Made Milwaukee Famous show, so we're going to be hanging out in a little bit. In the meantime, I thought I'd tell everyone about my dinner tonight.

Since it's another beautiful day in Iowa City, I got my grill out and cleaned up, and prepared to do some cooking. I had gotten an onion and portobello mushroom cap earlier in the day, and a two liter of Diet Dr Pepper. Unfortunately, I didn't think to check the charcoal situation before the store; when I got my bag out, there were probably 5 or 6 coals. And since they had been outside, they had gotten a little waterlogged. Luckily, the grill I was using is a small one, so I piled up my meager coals and doused them with lighter fluid. After 3 or 4 more dousings, they were ready to cook. First up was the portobello cap with a little olive oil and salt for seasoning. I was sauteing the onion to go with the left-over kielbasa, so I had to keep an eye on two fronts. Of course, I didn't plan the timing very well, so the onions were done well before I had even put the sausage on the grill. Since it was taking so long, I pulled the mushroom off the grill, and finished it off in the toaster oven, with some Norwegian Ridder cheese (pictured). I also toasted the heels of a loaf of Pepperidge Farms Soft Oatmeal bread, then put the portobello on with some of the onions. It was delightful. The cheese has a smooth, mellow flavor, similar to many white French cheeses, something that I just kind of picked up on a whim. I'm glad I did, it has turned into one of my favorite cheeses. (I feel like I'm kind of a cheese buff, but there are so many kinds out there I haven't had.) It went with the smokiness that the portobello had picked up very well, and although a Swiss cheese may have been a little better fit, I was pleased with the outcome.

Next was the main event, the whole reason I wanted to grill tonight. Polish kielbasa. With the grill now picking up heat, I tossed it on and sat outside, eating the sandwich and enjoying the day. I didn't have any fancy buns, just a regular-ass coney, but I toasted it and put some onions and ketchup and horseradish mustard on to sort of spice it up a little. Once the sausage was done, I put it all together in what can only be described as a work of art. With the weather as nice as it is, and the grill being kind to me, it was a great evening experience, one of the better meals I've made in quite some time. And I can't wait to grill again. I just need coals.

Hot Pocket

I was reading Lollie's blog just now, and came across a post about Hot Pockets. I noticed that H had made a comment about her boyfriend, Bill, stuffing an entire Hot Pocket in his mouth to win a $5 bet. She says "He got his five dollars but hasn't touched a Hot Pocket since." That's half true, he has not touched a Hot Pocket since that fateful day, but he never received $5. In fact, he was doing this so he wouldn't have to pay me $5.

You see, in those days, Bill and I would go to Perkins late at night, just for some food and something to do. Jim, one of our other roommates, had made a statement saying he would never go to Perkins with us again, because most of the time was just spent laughing at something that was most likely inane. On one of these trips, when we were paying at the counter, Bill would give me $5 if I asked the guy at the register if he made all of the muffins, cookies, Rice Crispy treats, etc. that were in the display case. So of course I did, it was an easy $5, and Bill was instantly cursing himself. (if anyone knows me, I have no problem doing something like this. Bill knew me, and was not drunk or anything. It was a momentary lapse of judgment, and not his last of the story.) I had agreed that instead of Bill paying the $5, I would make some sort of bet for Bill to do, and we'd be even. It took a few weeks, but I came up with a good one.

One day Jim was making a Hot Pocket for lunch, when we were all sitting around the apartment. I made the bet with Bill that if he stuffed the entire Hot Pocket in his mouth, and kept it down and swallowed, we would be even. Jim made a deal, where if Bill ate his Hot Pocket, Jim would punch him. And for every piece of Hot Pocket that fell out of his mouth, Bill would receive an additional punch. For some reason, Bill agreed. And for some reason, I didn't grab my video camera to document the happenings.

Bill made a valiant effort, he got nearly all of the Hot Pocket into his mouth at once. But two little bits fell out, so Jim got off a 3-punch combo that would've made Ali proud. All in the midsection. All while Bill still had the Hot Pocket in his mouth. And much to his credit, Bill kept the Hot Pocket in his mouth and eventually swallowed. At least I think he did, I was on the ground with tears in my eyes from laughing.

So there's the full story. And now that I think about it, Haley might need to make a bet with me, since she had said she would give me something like $26 if I walked past and made some sort of contact with this woman with gigantic boobs on the dance floor of some bar in Minneapolis. It was easy, I just walked behind her like I was trying to get through the crowd, and placed my hands on her shoulders for support. She probably needed the support more than I did, she was rather top-heavy and any sort of nudge most likely would have sent her toppling. So H, next time we're together, I'll have to figure out some sort of escapade for you.

What a time to be alive

The "internet" is down at my place, so, in order to keep you, the reader, happy, and in order to check my email, I walked down to the University's library to get online. (that may have been the most commas ever used.) I walked past the Pentacrest (pictured to the above), where workers were setting up stages and fences for Barack Obama's appearance tomorrow! I'm pretty excited for it, things fell into place really well, I don't have to work or anything. And it's kind of cool that he's going to be in Iowa City for an Earth Day Rally. Now if the weather cooperates, all will be well. Today it's beautiful outside, hopefully it will continue tomorrow, and the 40% chance of there not being a thunderstorm will happen. (does that make sense to anyone? Cause I'm not sure if I understand what I was trying to say)

While I was walking, I decided that there are some things that I need to do around Iowa before I make the move to Austin in August or September. The main thing that I want to do before I leave is to go to one more game at legendary Kinnick Stadium. Another thing that I thought of today was that I need to go to the Field of Dreams. (It's only little more than an hour away from me, and I've never been there! It's one of my favorite movies, how could this happen?! I need to go there with my dad and have a catch.) I have to try the restaurants that I haven't hit yet. (Note: Baldy's and Jimmy Jack's can be taken off the list, I've been to both now and liked them very much. Venuto's can also be removed, they have unfortunately closed.) I really should sell some of my stuff, or at least find a place to store some junk. I have way too much stuff that I don't need to bring to Texas, so a Flenker Sale may be in order. I really, really need to get my resume in order before I go, and I should start looking at jobs. I also want to get into better shape, that's kind of been slacking lately. Too many beers, I believe. I'm sure I'll come up with other must-do's this summer.

On a sad note, it pains me to say goodbye to Tyler Smith. He's leaving the U to be closer to his ailing father. I can't blame him, and wish him the best. If he ends up in Tennessee Orange next year or the year after, I will be cheering for them. They'll have two former Hawkeyes involved, how can I not?

One last thing, H has put up her answers to the questions posed by The Flenker! Thanks Haley! If you want to be interviewed by yours truly, leave a comment and I'll contact you with some goodness.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

5 Burning Questions (an interview by Minty)

Well, you are now reading the blog of the newest member of the Buffalo Wild Wings' Blazin' Hall of Fire. At the BWW in Iowa City, you become a member by downing 18 of the Blazin' Hot Sauce wings in under 5 minutes. I got it done in just over 4, which was a little disappointing to me, but I finished, and that's all that really matters. Honestly, it wasn't that hot. I went through them so fast, it didn't have that much of an affect on me. The hardest thing was actually eating the wings in the time allotted. The wings had just come out of the fryer, so they were hot to the touch, and burned my mouth just from their temperature. So now, if you're in the area, look for my picture on the wall, and I can show you my new shirt, proclaiming my accomplishment. (Naturally, I got ice cream afterwards)

Today's post is an interview of The Flenker by Minty! She posed some thought-inducing questions, which were a pleasure to answer! If anyone out in the ether wants to be interviewed by Flenker, read the directions at the bottom of the post. Without further ado, let's get Minty on Flenker.

1. What day/event would you relive/redo if you could?

If it's just one to straight-up relive and have the same experience, it would probably be the day that the Iowa Hawkeye football team destroyed Ohio State in Kinnick a few years ago. And not just because of the Hawkeye win, but it was just overall a great fall day. The weather was almost perfect for me, I watched the game in Muscatine, sat in the hot tub, and had an excellent night back in Iowa City. All around, a good time.

As for one that I would like to redo, it gets a little trickier. There are a lot of things that I've been reflecting back on, things I think I should've handled differently. At first I thought I would redo my whole going to Iowa State University, but then I wouldn't know some of my best friends, including Bill, Heinricy, Charczuk, Jim, and others. I also, in turn, wouldn't know Haley, and may not have ended up in this here blogosphere. And, my life would've been totally different, I wouldn't have had many of the experiences that I've lived. That's not to say that one way is better than the other, I can't say that. But I don't regret what I've done and where I've been in that regard. I think the main events in my life that I would like to redo are the social events, when I've just been awkward and all-in-all a party pooper. I wish I would've been more supportive of going to different parties. And I wish I wouldn't let a negative attitude towards things (movies, bands, people, etc.) get me in such a bad mood, to the point where I can't enjoy anything, and I bring the other people around me down as well. I can think of a few instances of this happening in the past few months, and I apologize for all of them.

Also, I wish I would have gone to see the Apples in Stereo when they were in town a few months ago.

2. Is there a word that you can't spell correctly no matter how many times you try?

I know there are some, I just can't think of any right now. I'm usually a very good speller, and good grammatically, but every now and then my fingers don't want to work properly. Usually, I'll have troubles with words ending with an "-ly", not knowing if it is"-ally" or "-ely" or just simply "-ly." One of my favorite words to spell, conversely (see, I had to look that one up), is "awkward." Not only because it fits me so well, but I really like the w's being that close together.

3. You have to eat from one fine fast food establishment for every meal for the rest of your life; which is it and why?

Well, if Oasis counts, I would go there and eat falafel every day and be happy. I eat there almost every day as it is, so it wouldn't be too much of a change. But if I have to pick a more "traditional" fast food joint, I'll go with Wendy's. I could survive on Jr Bacon Cheeseburgers, fries, and a Frosty until the end of my days. (Of course, the fries would be dipped in the Frosty)

4. If you were given the chance, what famous person (dead or alive) would you want to interview you?

This is kind of a tough one for me, there are so many musicians and writers that I'd would love to find out what sort of questions they would ask of me, and how the conversation would go. But I think I'd have to go with Buck O'Neil. When he died last October, I literally cried, even though he had reached the age of 94, and had been in fairly poor health. As I've noted many times before, he's one of my heroes, and would love to have him pick my brain, and, even if he would be the one asking the questions, I would learn so much about baseball, and probably a lot about life. Of course, we'd have to toss a ball around, and catch a ballgame in Kansas City. Then we'd get some barbecue and have some iced tea.

5. Which Wilco song is your favorite from a lyrical standpoint? Which is your favorite from a musical standpoint?

Another excellent question, it's very hard to choose just one. . . Lyrically, "Pieholden Suite" is probably my favorite, while "Forget the Flowers" might be my favorite musically. Now if you ask me this again tomorrow, you may get two different answers. But I feel that both of these are solid songs.


Now everyone else plays along! You may have seen this done elsewhere, but now it's your turn. Just follow these simple rules.

1. Leave me a comment on this post saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

An open invitation for any and all to come to Iowa City!

First off, sorry to Mr. Haley's Dad, I didn't mean to ignore your question about good sushi in Iowa City. There's a lot of good sushi around town, I think my favorite is Oyama, just because I know a couple of the sushi chefs there, and they usually give me free kani salad. (If you've never had kani salad, I would strongly suggest you do. It's got little slivers of crab and cucumber, in some sort of mayonnaise or a similar sauce, with a little bit of roe added. It's delicious.) Three Samurai is good, especially on Thursday or Sunday, when they have an all-day happy hour. Certain rolls are priced around $2-3, and most domestic beers are on special, as well, so it can be a very cheap, delicious meal. All of the other places, Sushi PoPo, Aoeshe, Takanami, Formosa, etc., all have good sushi, so it's basically a matter of trying them. Each has a little variation on some rolls; Oyama, for example, doesn't put cucumber in their California rolls. Miso soup is the same anywhere, and is always good. And each place has their own "specialty" rolls, so you might as well try them all! Next time anyone is in Iowa City and wants to get some sushi, let me know, I'll be there!

Also, I wanted to point out some links that I've added to the side over there. There's stop the world, I want to get off, Krazee Eyez Killa, Bulletproof Blank, and Brief Interviews with Hideous Minty. All definitely worth checking out. Of course they are, why would I link to them if they weren't? (Disclaimer: if you are reading this and you have a blog that I haven't linked to, I apologize. I'm sure your blog is worth checking out, too, just give me time and I'll get to it, I promise!) I consider everyone linked over there blog friends, and read them all as often as I can. I hope everyone else does the same. There's some good stuff happening out there!

Hey sweet lady, where are you running so fast?

KP sent me a message last night to check out What Made Milwaukee Famous on myspace, and I'm pretty glad he did. These guys are actually playing in Iowa City on Saturday, and now I may be interested in going to the show. We'll see. But I'm definitely down with their sound, basically a nice, mostly upbeat indie pop band. I dig. Hopefully you will too!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Oh, joys of stupid people

Last night at work was kind of fun, as fun as work can be I guess. Since we're a postal sub-station, people kept coming in to get their taxes post-marked with the date, so they wouldn't be late. What people didn't understand was that our last pick up of the day was at 2:30, and after that, we change the date stamps. Some of the customers coming in just couldn't get that fact, and would start arguing that it was still the 17th, that we should still be stamping their mail with that date. Even though their letters would be sitting in the backroom overnight, not getting touched until the 18th. At first I felt a little bad for them, but then I remembered that they had 3-and-a-half months to get their taxes done and sent it, so they lost any sympathy. Everyone was even given an extra day! Nope, I don't feel sorry for you. Did you really think that you could go to a grocery store at 9:59 and get your taxes in the mail? Come on!

Also last night, my co-worker was asked when she was due. As in when she was expecting her baby to be born. She's not pregnant. She doesn't even really look like she would be pregnant. Maybe very early in the term. But either way, that's not something you ask someone when you're not sure, right? I mean, there have been a couple instances where I thought someone was with baby, but I held my tongue until I was sure. You have to have that sort of self-censoring voice in your head in such occasions. Anyways, the girl laughed about it, didn't take it too hard, which was nice. But it got me thinking, is there a similar situation for men? Is there something that someone can say or ask that could potentially offend or upset a guy as much as saying something about a woman's weight? The only things I could come up with were either something about balding ("Hey, when did you start shaving your head?") or maybe either hitting on or making disparaging remarks about a guys wife/girlfriend/sister without knowing their relationship ("Look at that girl, she's got big knockers!""That's my sister." or "Don't look now, but Fido is heading this way.""I'm dating her.") But that would just most likely result in some sort of fistfight, not the shaking of a man's vision of himself. And I don't know if guys are as sensitive about their hair as girls are of their weight. So I'll contemplate this a little while longer. Any input or suggestions would be appreciated!

Tonight everything is over, I feel too young

Today's band is Phoenix, a French band with a sort of old-school (almost 80's-ish) pop sound. I think I first heard them on a soundtrack, possibly Lost in Translation. I instantly liked the song "Too Young," and had to check out the rest of their stuff. It's good. A good band to listen to on a nice summer day, possibly while drinking a Leinie's Summer Shandy. Their myspace page has some good tunes on it, including "Too Young." Give 'em a shot!

The boys of Phoenix in Australia

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A new beer, some food, and the Flenker Bros.

I'm trying another new beer tonight, this one is Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy. It's a Weiss beer with lemonade, and has a 4.2% ABV. It tastes like there is no alcohol at all, which could be dangerous. "Shandy" suggests a beer with lemonade or some sort of soft drink at about a 50/50 mix. The Leinie's shandy uses lemonade, and tastes delicious, like lemonade with a slight beer aftertaste. It goes down very smooth, and is very refreshing. I was a little leery about it, but one taste turned that around. I had gotten this last night from a friend who had just been given five bottles after one of his friends didn't like it, so it was free for me, which makes it even better! All in all, this is a wonderful summer beer, I would suggest everyone try it out on a hot summer day. (This is not the first shandy I've had. Last year, for their St. Patrick's Day mini-tour, Old Chicago had a "Shandy Gaff," which had Guinness and 7-Up. It was terrible. It just tasted like flat Guinness with a little hint of lemon. Not good times.)

For lunch today, I had some left-over jambalaya I had made late last week, wrapped up in a tortilla. The jambalaya was from a pouch-mix, adding part of a kielbasa and some spice, mostly crushed red pepper and Louisiana Hot Sauce, and turned out surprisingly well! I had added a little kick to it, and the sausage went well with the dish. I'm sure I could've probably come up with something similar without using a packaged mix, but the price was right and it was so simple, it was worth the trade-off. Plus, it was enough to last for a few meals, which is always nice. I'm hoping to grill the rest of the kielbasa in the next few days, because face it, everything tastes better when cooked outside. I should pick up some peppers and onions, and make it with all the fixin's. Damn, I'm salivating just thinking about it. It won't be tomorrow, though, Bill's coming into town to see Jimmy Carter speak, and we're planning on getting some sushi. I'm overjoyed, sushi is delicious. I don't get it, I love sushi, but I don't really like seafood. Strange. But Bill should be bringing some pictures from the weekend, which should prove to be hilarious. I'll think about posting them at some point.

Anyways, time for some reading before bed. An Evening of Long Goodbyes is going pretty well, I'm enjoying it so far, but only about 70 pages deep. We'll see how it goes. Until then, I'll leave you with another picture, this time of the Flenker Brothers. That's Travis on the right. A pair of sexy dudes, no?

Goddamn right, it's a beautiful day

Today's band is another one of my favorites, just missing out on my Top 5. The Eels have been around in one way or another for quite a while, since 1991. The band started out as a one-man show, E, but then as his music grew in popularity, he put together a live band for touring. It's all there in their bio on the website, and probably a much better read than I could put together. Their myspace has some great songs to get started on if you're unfamiliar, including my favorite song, "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues." I didn't notice at first, but you can scroll down to a fifth song, and there it is, a very fitting song for the past few days. So listen, love, and smile.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Another photo story (with apologies to Haley)

I've decided that now would be a good time for me to post the next photo story of The Flenker. This comes from my weekend in Minneapolis for the Iowa/Minnesota game. We decided to go to Gameworks in downtown MPLS, where on their menu, they had a challenge: eat a one-pound hamburger with all the fixin's, and get a $10 giftcard to use in the arcade. The burger was $12, so we figured it'd be worth a net $2 to do it, so all the guys got it. Haley had something like a salad, and Bill got a turkey wrap. I've decided to caption the photos this time, to add to the story. One last note before the photos, this was the meal that turned Haley off of beef. I can't imagine why, there was 5 lbs of it on the table.

I was acting interested in what H was saying, but my mind was on the burger

Me and the boys discuss the game plan

Ordering with gusto

Guessing the size of the behemoth

The Flenker is not impressed

Digging in

I like my burgers a little pinker, but this will have to do

I was going so fast, it appeared as a blur (notice Strickland in the background, empty space on the table)

I slowed down a little for photographic evidence (Strickland still burger-less)

Time for a bib

Getting near the end (Strickland still not eating)

Wiping the mouth while Strickland watches with jealous eyes


And, just for fun, another one of my favorite pictures of me, in full BEEYAH! mode during the combined birthday party for me and Dan (pictured, my co-beeyah) this past January.

Reflections on the day

Much love and thoughts go out to those in VA today. This news hit me hard for some reason, I had flashbacks to the shootings here at the U of Iowa campus in November of '91, one of those events where I can remember where I was when I had heard about it. That was nowhere near as bad as this one, and I thought that the one in Iowa City was terrible. Sure I was only 10 at the time, but I knew it was a tragedy. (I still remember the Hawkeyes wearing all black, decal-less helmets for their next game against Ohio State, and upsetting them for a very emotional victory. I know it may cheapen the events to bring in sports here, but it was a big thing for me at the time.) And it provides, to me, a perspective and sheer magnitude of what happened today. I felt like I should say something about it. Terrible, sad news all around.

In brighter news, things in Iowa City today were rather relaxed. The weather was absolutely perfect, getting up to around 75 degrees and sunny. Much nicer than what everyone's getting out East. I was still dog-sitting, so Tucker and I took a walk around the neighborhood. It made me really want to have a dog of my own to walk. I like Tucker and all, he's a sweet dog, but it's a little emasculating to be walking around with a miniature wiener dog. I took some time to read outside, and even did a little studying outside for my upcoming finals. Not looking forward to those, but I am looking forward to being done. And looking forward to the summer. Then work was fine, it actually went by quickly, which is always nice. I decided that I needed to spend a little of the money I made from the dog-sitting, so I picked up a six-pack of Samuel Adams Honey Porter, because it sounded interesting to me. I like porters, and I like honey. So I figured it would be good. And I figured correctly. I'm finishing up my first one right now. It starts with the taste of a porter, but a little smoother, and has a nice, sweet, honey aftertaste. Definitely worth checking out if you like darker beers.

Sorry for no music today, I was too busy enjoying the weather. I'll try to do it tomorrow, but no guarantees. It may be too nice again. Plus a day off never hurt anyone. But, here's a music-related recommendation, I guess. If you're a fan of Wilco, you should watch Jeff Tweedy's live concert DVD, Sunken Treasure. I saw him on this tour here in Iowa City, and I have to say I enjoyed the show I saw in person more than any of the concert clips from the DVD, but I think I was spoiled with that one. There's still some good footage, including Tweedy playing "How to Fight Loneliness," a song he didn't play here, much to my dismay. If I can figure it out, I'll put up a couple songs from the show that I went to from a bootleg that I found. It's pretty good quality, and makes me smile every time I listen. (PS - tickets for Wilco at the Adler Theater in Davenport, IA, go on sale this Saturday. It's their first show in the US after a European tour, in the city where I was born, a city half an hour away from me. I'm pumped.)

Well it's been a long day, and this beer is making my eyelids a little heavier, so I think I'll be hitting the hay. I stayed at the place I was watching last night, which was a nice little vacation of sorts, but I like my bed way way too much, so tonight's sleep should be good. Good night (or day, depending on when you're reading this) everyone, hope the next few days are brighter all around.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Happy Jackie Robinson Day!

60 years ago today, Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers for opening day, marking the first time an African-American played in the modern era of Major League Baseball. I really don't know why he and Buck O'Neil have had such a huge influence on my life; it's not like I can really relate to them that well, being some white boy from Iowa, but they're still heroes to me. Maybe it's just because they're were such big figures in the history of baseball, and therefore are big figures to me. Robinson's former team, the Dodgers, are playing in the Sunday Night game on ESPN, so I've been watching that, listening to Jackie's beautiful wife Rachel tell stories and cheer for the Dodgers in the booth. For some reason, baseball stuff can make me tear up, and tonight was no exception. It's been just a great ceremony and game.

This weekend was fun, my visitors Bill and Haley made it safely and in time for the Hawkeye's spring practice. The weather was almost perfect, only a light sweatshirt was needed when the sun was out and wind died down. The practice went about how I expected, a tense moment occurred when Dominique Douglas (Doug E Fresh or DD from now on in this blog) started limping around, but he came back a little later and made a few outstanding catches. I liked watching Arvell Nelson, as he has become my favorite quarterback, but I doubt he'll get a whole lot of playing time right away, behind Jake Christensen. We shall see what happens, though. Doug E is still my favorite Hawkeye. Todd Lickliter made an appearance and received a very nice standing ovation from the 20,000 fans that showed up to watch a practice.

After the game I introduced my guests to falafel, which was a great success. I was slightly nervous about this, since I had been building it up to them so much, but I don't think they were let down. It was a good time. Thanks Oasis! We then went to a local used bookstore, where I picked up a couple more books that I probably shouldn't have. I got Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut, The Metamorphosis (and Other Stories) by Franz Kafka, and An Evening of Long Goodbyes by Paul Murray. I got that last one because the blurbs on the cover compared Murray to Nick Hornby, one of my favorite writers, and because the cover reminded me of those "Old Spice" commercials with Bruce Campbell. It seems to have been well-liked by critics, so hopefully it'll be a good find. If not, I only paid half-price for it at a used place, so no big loss.

After the book store, we headed down to the Riverside Casino, because Haley really wanted to see it. And who am I to keep someone from new experiences? It turns out I should've kept her from this one, as I got my ass handed to me by a Walt Disney lookalike at the Blackjack table. With spirits and funds low, we decided to head to Buffalo Wild Wings for some food. I was tempted to try for the "Wall of Flame" by eating 18 of the Blazin' Hot wings in 5 minutes, but didn't really feel like spending that much money on the wings. I did sample the sauce, though, and am confident that I can do this. So sometime in the near future, a Polaroid of The Flenker will be on display. (The sauce is hot, I'll give them that. But not debilitating-ly so. And if my little brother can do it twice, that means it's not going to be a problem for me. The only problems I would have [and did last night] is going to the bathroom with the burning sauce on my hands. Not good times.)

We ended the night at BoJames, had a few drinks and a rather enjoyable time, stumbling (literally for H) home and getting to sleep. The morning brought us breakfast at the Hamburg Inn, and then a rushed goodbye as I was heading for work. More time would've been nice, but a great weekend either way.

Well, I'd love to stay and write more, but I'm dog/house sitting for some friends, and I don't want to leave Tucker by himself for too much longer. He's a sweet dog, a miniature dachshund, we've been hanging out most of the night, just laying around and watching baseball. But there's no internet there, and I needed to grab some things from home anyways, so I figured I'd drop a quick note on this here blog of mine. And I would like to welcome Haley's Dad to the scene, I hope he enjoys everything around. Anyone who is a Hawkeye fan is a friend of mine!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Gin, why do you treat me so good?

(I know my title's grammatically incorrect. But it's ironic! It's supposed to be that way because it's funny!)
Today's shaping up to be a Good Day. There's the spring game or practice or scrimmage or whatever they're calling it for the Hawkeyes today, the Hawk Shop is having a big sale, my dad's coming up, and Bill and Haley are on their way to Iowa City! Now if the clouds would go away and if the sun would warm things up a little bit, it would be pretty perfect.

So last night got a little out of control. . . One of my brother's roommates was celebrating his 21st birthday, making me feel like an old fart. But he supplied the alcohol, so I can't complain. He had mixed up some delicious "gin buckets" and had a keg. I stuck with the gin (if you want to win me over, feed me Tom Collinses all night long). I stayed there for a little while, then went out to meet up with some friends. In spite of my best efforts, I did not get into a fight. (I don't know what it is, but ever since New Year's Eve, I've been feeling a little punchy when I get some liquor in me. And honestly, dear reader, I haven't really been trying that hard to get into fights. I don't think I really want to fight, but it makes for a good story.) Nothing that exciting happened, just hanging out with some friends and having a few cocktails. I'm pretty sure I called Bill and Haley about 5 or 6 times throughout the night. I used to be an out of control drunk-dialer, but I've reined myself in fairly well of late. That, and I don't drink too often anymore. I'm an old man living in a kid's town. And while that may push me to drink, I wouldn't want to do it downtown, and don't really feel like being super pathetic and drinking at home alone all the time. So, I'll just stick with my blog.

Somehow, I've never been hungover. Well, that's not entirely true, I was hungover after my "drunkest night ever" and a little bit after my birthday last year. But aside from those times, the Next Day is usually fine for me. Like today, I woke up at 9 after going to bed around 4, and feel wonderful. I feel like going to a Hawkeye football practice! I think I shall. First I must shower and pick up a few things in my room before my guests arrive. Maybe tonight H and I can have a joint blog posting. That'd be intense!!! Until then, have a wonderful Saturday folks!

Friday, April 13, 2007

One pair of clean socks, and a photo of you

Today's band provided me the inspiration for my blog name, and have been mentioned here a few times. Of course I speak of The Weakerthans. They've been one of my favorite bands for a while now, ever since I first heard their album Fallow. Some great indie/prairie rock from Canada. And while I like their first two CD's the best, there are still some great songs on their latest. They're going to be releasing a new album in the fall of this year, so there's a reason to be excited.

Well, off to work. Happy Friday the 13th everybody!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

At least I didn't get last. . .

This past July, I walked/ran the Bix 7 with my dad, my first time doing the event, his 15th or 16th. My dad's been trying to get me and my brother to do it for sometime now, last year was the first either of us had gone. And I'm extremely glad I did, it was a fun experience and an overall good time. We signed up as walkers, because neither of us had trained very much, and wanted to enjoy the seven miles at a leisurely pace. We started near the end of the 15,000+ large pack of people, and took about 10 minutes for us to actually get to the starting line after the race had commenced. Our "official" race time was 1 hour, 44 minutes, and 32 seconds for myself, with my dad coming in three seconds later, so we probably actually did it in just over an hour and a half, which is not bad at all for walking. We did run the last mile or so, so we did make up some time, but we still did ok for an out-of-shape 25 year-old and a slightly more in-shape 57 year-old. Plus, we had a pretty awesome picture taken of us, which I'll get to in a minute. (They have a stand set up near the finish line that takes a picture of everyone as they come in, then a couple of weeks later the photos are sent out and you have the option of ordering photos. We had to order a copy of ours, you'll see why in a minute.)

I bring this up because my dad just got an entry form for this year's Bix, on July 29th. I am already pumped up to do it again. The race was a great time, then there's the "after party" where they have tons of free food, music, and even free beer once you've finished. (The beer line is always the longest, go figure.) There's also bands set up along the route, and people cheering on the participants the whole way. The route's pretty intense, a fewI bring all of this up because my dad got some information recently about signing up for this killer hills, and the first mile is entirely uphill. But that's not the worst part, that comes a few miles into it, shortly before the turn-around point, when the hill grade gets near 25%. (I don't know if that's the actual grade, but it sure as hell feels like it after you've gone 3 miles.) The map of the course is to the right. Also, the road race is just a part of the festivities. The entire weekend is the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, with a street fest in downtown Davenport, and jazz bands playing the entire weekend all throughout the town, including my favorite venue, LeClaire Park, on the Mississippi River. (For those unaware, Bix Beiderbecke was a talented trumpet player in the 1920's, a Dixieland jazz artist, from Davenport, IA. Good stuff.)

Anyways, besides having an entry form for this year's Bix, there was a postcard with last year's results. I had thought I did ok, but it turns out in my age division, I finished 1343 out of 1404, meaning I beat 61 people. Great. But it gives me a goal now, I gotta improve that. And this year, we're running it the whole way. Or at least jogging most of it. Probably a few breaks to walk. And maybe re-tie a shoe. My overall place wasn't that bad, at 8782, right around 50%. So I can feel better about that, I guess. And this year, I may have even moved up a bracket, into the 26-30 age range. So with age comes slowness, right? Well, not for me. I'm actually going to kind of train this year, I've started working out a little, and will increase that with improving weather. My goal is to get closer to a 10-minute mile pace, maybe even try to push it to an hour. I think I can do that. I will do that.

So, as promised, here's the picture of my dad and me as we neared the finish line for 2006's Bix 7. This may be one of my favorite pictures of myself, just because I look ridiculous (I was going for the Howard Dean "BEEYAH!" look, and I am absolutely rockin' that headband. I need to bust that out more often), my dad looks a little ridiculous, and, as many people have pointed out, we look like we've been running hard, while the woman behind us is casually strolling. Our shirts are soaked, mostly from pouring water out over ourselves to try to cool off on a hot day.

Beeyah indeed.

Music in the afternoon

Sorry about the delay in the music for today. The "internet" wasn't working here, and I was running around too much to stop at the library. And then I worked for 4 hours, which was actually quite enjoyable. If only I could do 4 hour shifts all the time, while still getting the 8 hour pay. I'll run that by my manager, see how that goes.

Anyways, today's music recommendation comes from Brooklyn's own Magnetic Fields! I first heard them on a mix tape exchange I did a few years ago, and had to go out and get their albums right afterwards. They're kind of quirky, goofy, sad, funny, and upbeat, all at the same time. Lead singer Stephin Merritt has a very distinct voice, which works well with the music.

I'll try to get tomorrow's music post ready, but I may not be able to, I'm just warning you now. If not, it'll be back on Monday. I know everyone's living and dying by my recommendations, I know how much they mean.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

So it goes.

My roommate just gave me some extremely sad news: Kurt Vonnegut died today. He was one of my favorite authors, and a one-time resident of Iowa City, working at the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa. I'm assuming there are going to be plenty of blog posts with this same title and subject matter, it just shows how influential and incredible Mr. Vonnegut was. I recommend everyone go out, buy copies of Slaughterhouse 5, Cat's Cradle, Sirens of Titan, Player Piano, and Breakfast of Champions to start, then might as well just finish off his collection. Good stuff, all around.

November 11, 1922 - April 11, 2007

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”

-Kurt Vonnegut in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

I'm leaving this place, but there's nothing I'm planning to take

Cassadaga, the latest album from Bright Eyes, was released yesterday, and I'm getting through my first full listen of it now. It's good. Very good. And on this glorious, seemingly ironically excellent day, it's perfect. (For those of you not reading this from the Midwest, there has been some extremely unseasonably cold weather, complete with some huge, huge snowflakes falling in Iowa City today. Incredibly beautiful. I love this. It's like Iowa City knew that I was going to be leaving after the summer, and wanted to give me one last snow, just as a nice little going away thought. Everyone around is bitching about the weather, while I'm walking around with a big, dopey smile on my face.) This album is a nice mix of some country-tinged tunes, showing what I feel has been the natural growth of Conor Oberst. If one were to listen to Fevers and Mirrors and then immediately play this album, they'd probably find it hard to believe that both came from the same band/musician, but, listening through their catalogue as it's grown, the band becomes more of an organic being, maturing with each song. It may help that Oberst around the same age as me, so maybe I'm kind of growing the same way. That may be a stretch, but it's nice to think. I haven't decided on a favorite song yet, I'll have to listen a few times more.

For other things in my life right now, it would seem like today would be a Bad Day. I mean, to borrow an analogy from Bill Simmons, I had a no-hitter through 7, brimming with confidence. I had lost the perfect game with a walk and an error, but was still going strong, no one could touch me. Then, on my best pitch, I gave up a triple off the wall. Now the other team is threatening to score, while my bats have been silent for sometime now. And I'm pretty sure the pitches were being tipped somehow, and the signals between me and the bench had somehow gotten confused. Now, with confidence shaken, I gotta try to maintain composure and finish the inning. I know about 94% of the people reading this won't get the reference, and that may be a conservative estimate. But I find it hilarious, so the whole day was fun for me. Just humor me this. Thanks.

However, part of the bright side of losing the no-hitter is that I've made up my mind. I'm going to Austin. It'll be after the very first Iowa Hawkeye home football game, just because I want to see another game at Kinnick before I leave. So, most likely sometime after September 8th, I'm heading south. I know, I know, some people may be skeptical about moving to Texas, home of our president, but Austin's a college town, suposedly similar to a (much) larger Iowa City, and I think my ideals will fit in there quite nicely. Plus the music scene is exactly what I want. So there's not a lot that can change my mind at this point. Unless someone offers me a lot of money to move to Boise right now. Eventually I'll get there, but there are other things I'd like to do and check out right now. Plus, I don't know if an opportunity like this will present itself again, so I gotta take advantage. So, as Howard Dean once said, "Beeyah!!!"

A photo story